Twice ranked as the world's No 1 player in the early 1970s, Ilie Nastase’s abiding legacy to tennis largely comes from the fluent and bold style of his play. Wonderfully talented, he brought a unique audacity to the sport, which was characterised by his remarkable touch around the court, whether producing a tantalisingly delicate drop shot or attacking the net with a high-risk lobbed half-volley. He also had an excitable temperament, which made his matches compulsive viewing.
During his illustrious career, he won two Grand Slam singles titles - the US Open in 1972 and the French Open in 1973. Nastase was runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972 and 1976 and, in all, he won 57 career singles titles and 51 doubles titles.
Although his five-set victory over Arthur Ashe for the 1972 US Open title and his straight sets win over Niki Pilic for the 1973 French Open crown represented the twin peaks of his playing career, he will perhaps best be remembered for his key role in the classic Wimbledon men's singles final of 1972. That year he reached the final for the very first time by defeating his doubles partner to be, Jimmy Connors, in a three-set quarter-final and then beating Manuel Orantes 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in a glorious semi-final. Although the serve and volley of American Stan Smith eventually overcame the finesse and deception of Nastase in the final 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, the match proved to be one of the most exciting in Wimbledon's glittering history.
During the peak of his tennis career, Nastase also won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles: the French Open with fellow-Romanian Ion Tiriac in 1970, Wimbledon with Jimmy Connors in 1973 and the US Open, again with Connors, in 1975.
Off the tennis court, he wrote two novels in French in the 1980s and entered politics in the 1990s, making an unsuccessful run for Mayor of Bucharest in 1996. Now he plays on the Masters seniors tennis tour. His autobiography was published in 2004.